In what the English Football League itself described as “one of the longest and most significant partnerships in professional sport”, SkyBet has extended its title as principal sponsor of the second tier of the English game until 2023-24.
The five year contract extension will see SkyBet continue to sponsor the Championship, League One and League Two competitions, as well as enjoy licensing to broadcast live odds inside stadiums and live- stream 18 matches throughout the season.
The deal also saw responsible gambling commitments being forged. Both sides signed an MoU stating that SkyBet’s “When the fun stops. Stop” campaign will be clearly broadcasted across media channels, and all EFL players will wear a responsible gambling message on their sleeves patches.
“We believe the additional focus we and the League are both placing on responsible gambling will show that well run betting operators can play an active part in raising awareness of problem gambling,” said SkyBet CEO Richard Flint.
“By using our sponsorship and marketing capabilities to highlight how customers can gamble safely we hope to ensure that nothing gets in the way of people’s enjoyment of sport, definitely not betting.”
Yet not everyone applauded the measures.
The industry-funded charity, GambleAware, itself not renowned for being the most passionate fan of gambling, voiced its statutory negativity, with chief exec Marc Etches saying it risked “normalising” gambling.
“Today’s news confirms that gambling advertising in sport has now reached a tipping point and we run the serious risk of normalising an adult activity for young people,” said Etches.
“We welcome the commitment to do more to promote safer gambling, because we all have a responsibility to help protect those at risk of developing a gambling problem. However, the messaging needs to be much more explicit about the risk involved than what the gambling industry currently proposes.”
The contract comes at a positive time for SkyBet, and further cements its place at the heart of the UK market, SkyBet recently announced FY16/17 figures up 38 percent on the previous year and customer climbing 31 percent.
Flint also dismissed rumours of expanding through mergers and acquisitions, saying the firm had “no plans to participate in any consolidation.”
But he did suggest that the company’s hedge fund owners CVC Capital might consider a public float for SB&G at some future date – tempering that there were “no current plans” to do so.